Brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Yesterday’s gospel reading (Matthew 10:32 – 33, 37 – 38; 19:27 – 30) is a telling commentary on our relationship with one another and with Christ. “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my father in heaven. But whoever denies me before others I will also deny him before my father in heaven.” Let us be clear: there can be no such thing as a crypto Christian. You are either for Christ or you are against him. There is no middle ground. You either gather for Christ or you do not. Taking the attitude you do not want to be involved is not an option. The consequences of not gathering is this: that you are acting in antithesis to the gathering because you are in fact scattering.
- One of the most important things to appreciate in following the Christian faith is to have no fear in declaring your love for Christ. Fear robs us of daring – daring to believe and daring to be with Christ. When the time comes to stand up and be counted then we must. This does not mean that we set out to test God by seeking martyrdom or by putting ourselves in harm’s way. We should never test God. So, how do we test God by seeking to publicly suffer for our faith? We test God because what we are in effect doing is reducing salvation to something mechanical, reducing it to some quid pro quo. ” I give you something of and from me and you give me paradise in return. Not as gift from you but as payment to me for what I have done for you”. We thus remove mercy and grace from human salvation – and that can never be right.
- Christ also tells us that he who loves father, mother, son, or daughter “more than me is not worthy of me, and he who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Christ is not saying that we should not love those around us. What he is saying is: look at how much and with what depth you love all those around you. To do so is human, but, you must love me more. Loving God in all its fullness means that all relationships that you have in this life are secondary to the love the Lord. In so doing you begin to see the relationships that we have in this world are in fact transitory and incomparable to the glorious radiance of the next world. By all means enjoy this life that ends – then follows the “real-world” – the world that has no end.
- How we relate and act towards others is a cross that each of us, as Christians, must bear. We all have crosses to bear in our daily lives. Been a Christian does not make you immune from heartache, sorrow or pain. Life happens and carries us along buffeting us through storms and guiding us through safe harbours. The point is not what cross we may bear but how we respond to our cross as Christians – that is our litmus test. That will determine whether we scatter or whether we gather. That will determine whether we are inside or outside the kingdom.
Around our church
The program for this week is as follows:
- Tuesday (tomorrow) feast day of St Peter and St Paul; Wednesday: the synaxis (worshipful assembly) of the 12 apostles; Thursday: the feast day of Saints Cosmos and Damien. All church services commence at 7:30 AM.
- On Saturday divine liturgy in English (including the lesser sanctification of the waters) from 9 AM to 10:15 AM;
- After divine service on Saturday we will be having a spring clean of our church ahead of our July fundraiser. Please attend to assist in making our church refulgent.
- On Sunday 18th July we will be holding our fundraising luncheon. Cost of tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for children. Please support our fundraiser. We are a standalone church without supports and we rely upon you to help us continue the work of God. Tickets can be purchased from me or from the Pangari. Remember, church lunches should be enjoyed and not endured – and we put on a pretty good lunch as well as entertainment!
- Also on Sunday 18th July we will be having a sweet /savoury stall as part of our fundraising endeavours. Now is the time to dust down all those recipes and make all the old favourites that everyone loves so well.
- Do not forget to tune into the ” Hour of Orthodoxy” from 5 PM to 6 PM tomorrow on six EBA FM for a full exposition of this coming Sunday’s Epistle and gospel reading. Also you can hear the divine liturgy in English, recorded last Saturday, and the divine liturgy recorded last Sunday on the same radio station from 130 to 3 PM and 430 to 6 PM respectively each Thursday.
Thought of the week
No man is an island. When Adam was created God said “it is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper comparable to him.” So , from the sleeping Adam he took a rib and created Eve. When Adam saw Eve “he said this is now bone of my bones and flesh my flesh.” Thus the relationship between husband and wife is a deep one that calls for total commitment, fidelity, loyalty and trust. If you have all those qualities for your partner in life then how much more so should you have those qualities towards your maker – the one who made you and promises life everlasting to you?
Till next time.
Father John Athanasiou 0411 061 554